LifeLock Ultimate Plus provides identity protection that no other service can match. It scans your files with all three major credit agencies and has lots of monitors and alerts. It watches over your credit cards, bank accounts and investment funds, scanning the open and the dark web. You can begin the process of freezing your credit right from LifeLock's interface, and there's an inexpensive option to add Norton Security antivirus protection.
In the event of an identity emergency, LifeLock Ultimate Plus promises up to $1 million to help get your life and credit back on track. But LifeLock, by far the most expensive service we've reviewed, comes up short in keeping track of your credit.
LifeLock provides monthly credit scores only from Equifax. Full credit reports from all three credit agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — come only once per year, the same as you can get free from annualcreditreport.com. LifeLock also provides Experian and TransUnion credit scores only yearly.
During the winter of 2019, I signed up for and used Ultimate Plus for three months. I paid for the monthly plan and kept an eye on LifeLock's alerts and notifications through its online interface, mobile apps and text messages. Despite some caveats, LifeLock Ultimate Plus is one of the best identity-protection services you can buy.
LifeLock costs and what's covered
LifeLock is in the process of merging with Symantec's consumer antivirus company, Norton, which has created a bewildering array of options and some recent price hikes. You can see a list of a couple of dozen different plans at https://www.lifelock.com/legal1/pricing/, but not all of them appear to be available for purchase through the LifeLock website.
One of the most basic LifeLock plans, LifeLock Standard, costs $11.99 a month ($125 a year). As with all these plans, there's a discount for the first year of service, and there's a bit more of a discount for Tom's Guide readers.
The Standard plan includes up to $1 million to help restore your identity, as well as $25,000 for lost funds and another $25,000 for personal expenses. It monitors your Equifax credit file and sends alerts if your personal identifiers (such as your Social Security number, street address or bank account number) show up in the wrong place. But you will get no credit reports or credit scores.
At $23.99 a month ($240 a year), LifeLock's Advantage plan keeps the $1 million limit for restoration experts but ups the wages-and-funds reimbursement to a maximum of $100,000 each. It also notifies you of data breaches, any crimes that might have been committed in your name and anyone trying to use your identity.
Like the Standard plan, the Advantage plan monitors only your Equifax credit file, but it adds an Equifax credit report and Equifax-based VantageScore 3.0 credit score once per year. It also monitors bank and credit card transactions for fraud.
LifeLock's Ultimate Plus plan costs $34.99 a month ($340 a year). You get up to $1 million of identity insurance and recovery of lost funds, as well as annual reports from all three major credit agencies. You also get annual Vantage 3.0 scores based on the credit reports from Experian and TransUnion, and you get the Equifax VantageScore 3.0 score monthly. The Ultimate Plus plan also monitors bank, credit card and investment accounts; alerts you of sex offenders moving into your neighborhood; and provides priority support.
As an additional option, all three plans offer five licenses for Symantec's Norton Security Online, a stripped-down version of Norton Security Deluxe antivirus software for Windows, Mac and Android. Norton Security Online is free for the first year but then costs an additional $1 per month for LifeLock Standard and an extra $2 per month for LifeLock Advantage. There's no price difference between Ultimate Plus with or without Norton Security Online, as Symantec is trying to herd its customers into all-encompassing packages.
But buying LifeLock with Norton through the LifeLock site would be dumb. You can just skip over to the Norton website and pay the same prices for LifeLock Advantage or Ultimate Plus with the full Norton Security Deluxe antivirus suite, which adds online storage, backup software, unlimited VPN service and more software licenses. (It's $2 per month more for LifeLock Standard, repackaged as LifeLock Select, with Norton Security Deluxe.)
Considering that Norton Security Deluxe runs for $100 per year just by itself, opting for it along with a LifeLock package might be a no-brainer if you're in the market for antivirus software.
One caveat: The LifeLock website's front page currently implies you can't opt out of purchasing Norton Security Online with your LifeLock subscription. But scroll down to the bottom of the page for fine print that reads, "Just want LifeLock? Click here," which takes you to the LifeLock Store page and will give you Norton-free options.
There's no LifeLock family plan, but with the LifeLock Junior plan, you can add a child under 18 to your regular plan for an extra $5.99 a month or $66 per year. There's also the LifeLock Senior plan, which you can buy for either of your parents (over age 55) for $19.99 a month ($220 a year) and which you don't need to be added to an existing plan. Both add-on services mirror the Ultimate Plus plan's identity-protection features, but the Senior plan lacks credit monitoring.
LifeLock plan comparison chart
|LifeLock Standard||LifeLock Advantage||LifeLock Ultimate Plus|
|Yearly cost||$125 (13% discount)||$240 (13% discount)||$340 (19% discount)|
|Credit reports||None||Equifax||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|Credit bureaus monitored||Equifax||Equifax||Equifax, Experian, TransUnion|
|Frequency of credit reports||None||Yearly||Yearly|
|Frequency of credit scores||None||Equifax, yearly||Equifax monthly, other two yearly|
|Type of credit score||None||VantageScore 3.0||VantageScore 3.0|
|Bank, card accounts monitored||No||Yes||Yes|
|Sex offender alert||No||No||Yes|
|Data breach alerts||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Security software||Norton Security Online antivirus software for extra $1/month||Norton Security Online antivirus software for extra $2/month||Norton Security Online antivirus software as free option|
|Lost wallet assistance||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Investment account monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Max. ID-theft coverage||$1 million||$1 million||$1 million|
LifeLock BBB rating
In the 10 years after LifeLock's founding in 2005, the company was fined more than $100 million by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive advertising and related charges. You may also remember LifeLock co-founder Todd Davis putting his Social Security number in ads and daring anyone to steal his identity. It was stolen eight times.
Since LifeLock's acquisition by Symantec in 2017, the company has toned down the theatrics and improved its customer service and support. Its Better Business Bureau rating has risen from a B to an A-, although there are still new complaints about unauthorized charges. LifeLock got a 3.5-star rating from the for-profit ConsumerAffairs website.
Credit scores and monitoring
By monitoring customer files with all three of the major credit-reporting bureaus, LifeLock Ultimate Plus matches the other premium identity-protection services we reviewed.
But again, even LifeLock's most expensive plan offers full, updated credit reports only yearly. You can get the same number of credit reports for free through www.annualcreditreport.com. Considering that rival services IdentityForce and IDShield give you credit reports quarterly, and PrivacyGuard gives you a "merged" credit report monthly, LifeLock doesn't present a good deal.
LifeLock Ultimate Plus does offer a VantageScore 3.0 credit score based on your Equifax file every month, but you'll have to wait a whole year to see your credit scores based on your Experian and TransUnion files. VantageScore 3.0 uses a different calculation model from the FICO scores that define consumer creditworthiness for most lenders.
LifeLock has the most comprehensive personal-information monitoring of any identity-protection service we've reviewed. It scans for your Social Security number, date of birth and bank account numbers on the internet and the "dark web."
It monitors payday loans, U.S. Postal Service address changes, internet "people search sites" like Intelius and Spokeo, and court records for signs of your personal information. It even monitors the fairly new industry of peer-to-peer lending, in which online brokerages match borrowers with private lenders.
However, there's still no option to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect your LifeLock account, even though the company told us last year that this was a priority. Unfortunately, few identity-protection services offer 2FA. LifeLock told us this year that the Norton 2FA process would eventually be offered for LifeLock accounts.
By contrast, IdentityForce uses 2FA to reduce the risk of account takeovers, and PrivacyGuard provides a faint imitation by requiring you to input the last four digits of your Social Security number to log in.
LifeLock also lacks a financial calculator or credit simulator. Other identity-protection services offer these useful tools to let customers try out scenarios, such as how to repair bad credit or whether to lease or buy a car.
Insurance and services
Like many of its competitors, LifeLock Ultimate Plus will spend up to $1 million on lawyers, experts and investigators to help you get back your credit and identity.
The plan covers the costs of replacing identity documents, reasonable travel expenses to get to court or to meet with lawyers, unpaid leave from work, and the cost of any elder or child care you have to pay for in the course of recovering your identity. This plan will even replace your stolen wallet, handbag or purse.
There's another pot of $1 million to reimburse you for any lost funds that credit card companies or banks refuse to cover. This can be a financial lifesaver, but most premium identity-protection services offer something similar.
Notifications and alerts
LifeLock's user alerts are deep but not overwhelming. They can come as email messages, text messages, synthesized voice calls or mobile-app push notifications, or as alerts on your LifeLock account web page.
The alerts notify you of bank-account and credit card activity, fraudulent loan applications and account takeovers, and recent data breaches. You can also set up alerts for purchases that exceed a monetary threshold you designate.
LifeLock has sex-offender alerts, but unlike IDShield and PrivacyGuard, it doesn't show you the offenders' residences on a map.
Over my three-month test period, LifeLock sent me eight alerts that ranged from credit inquiries to possible overspending on a credit card. I also got several informational emails.
LifeLock's sign-up procedure was quick and easy. I filled in my name, address, email address, date of birth, Social Security number and phone number. After I agreed to the company's terms, I could add partners, children and parents at an extra cost.
After I paid with a credit card (LifeLock also takes PayPal), I created an account password and added more credit cards, bank and investment accounts, phone numbers, and email addresses to monitor. The entire process took just 5 and a half minutes.
LifeLock's greatly improved service and support provides 24-hour priority response with the Ultimate Plus plan, and my emailed question was quickly answered. Support technicians can be reached via a toll-free number, email or chat, and the website is chock-full of videos, tips and troubleshooting help.
Interface and utilities
LifeLock's web interface is one of the best in the business, but like many other identity-protection services, it tries to pack too much into a single page.
At the top of your account's home screen are Alerts and Notifications, plus a green checkmark if nothing is amiss. Under those are the current Vantage 3.0 score from Equifax and a button to start the process of freezing or unfreezing your credit files.
You'll still have to fill out a form with each of the credit-reporting agencies to freeze your files, but LifeLock at least guides you to the right online pages, saving you the valuable time having to hunt for them.
The Credit Score and Report section shows not only your current Equifax VantageScore, but also how that score has changed since you first subscribed to LifeLock.
I could see inquiries from two years ago and previous addresses that went back 35 years. My overall amount of debt was broken down by credit card, mortgage and installment credit. The page has a link to Equifax's phone number, so you can call if you spot an error.
If you have an identity emergency, check the ID Restoration section, which offers a record of all correspondence and actions. Regardless of the plan you choose, LifeLock provides a dedicated case manager for identity restoration.
The LifeLock Android and iOS mobile apps are low-resolution, and you've got to manually expand them to full screen on a tablet. They display new alerts front and center, and you can access Credit, Monitoring and Support through links from the front page.
Canceling LifeLock can be a hassle
At the end of the test period, I canceled my LifeLock subscription by going to the Manage Account section and scrolling to the bottom to click on Cancel Membership Renewal. However, the company wouldn't let me proceed until I gave a reason for ending our relationship.
The online process went smoothly, but a LifeLock representative called me the next day to try to talk me out of canceling. It took nearly a week for me to receive an emailed confirmation of my cancellation.
LifeLock Ultimate Plus is worth it if you're really paranoid about having your identity stolen. No other service matches LifeLock's comprehensive monitoring of personal data. We also really liked its new one-click feature to start a credit freeze. And if you get Norton Security Deluxe with it (essentially for free), that might justify the $350 yearly subscription price.
But IdentityForce UltraSecure+Credit provides 90 percent of the monitoring, and much more credit-file information, for $100 less yearly. If you're primarily interested in credit monitoring, try the even cheaper IDShield Individual 3 Credit Bureau Monitoring.
Credit: Tom's Guide